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Glancer Magazine

STILL NO PLAN | Parents Express Discontent at Monday's Kaneland District 302 School Board Meeting


Parents came together in Sugar Grove Monday evening as Kaneland District 302 held its school board meeting at Harter Middle School while live streaming it at More than 50 parents were in attendance in the cafeteria with an overflow room down the hall. Several discontent parents spoke during the initial public comments section of the meeting highlighting their concern that school is not yet operating under a Full-Day / In-Person model, despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Phase 4 plan.

During the meeting, Dr. Sarah Mumm, Director of Educational Services K-5 and Patrick Raleigh, Director of Educational Services 6-12 presented an Academic Learning/Loss Report to the board indicating some areas of failure, particularly among 8th grade and high school students. Other report findings showed that district-wide overall test scores were positive using the i-Ready online assessment program. An impact report on mental health was not available, as SEL was not presented. Board Vice President, Ryan Kerry, requested that a report on SEL be provided in the March meeting rather than waiting until the April meeting, which is on the current agenda.

Future Learning Survey Results

Superintendent Dr. Todd Leden shared the results of a survey conducted last month that asked Kaneland parents for their input regarding the 2021-2022 school year learning model. Out of 2,491, the results indicate that 86% prefer a full 5-day learning plan, 8.1% prefer hybrid with the remaining percentage preferring homeschool, private school or other options. Two of the seven board members in attendance, Aaron Lawler and Teresa Witt, questioned the integrity of the survey, to which Leden indicated that this survey was not name-based and while multiple responses were possible per parent, he trusted the integrity of the parents who completed the survey. The meeting concluded with more public comments by parents who were expressing their disappointment. These specific concerns are highlighted below.

The general concern of parents, as stated by many who spoke, is that there is no plan currently in place to move towards a Full-Day / In-Person model in accordance to the guidelines posted by IDPH, but rather families are seeing a continued focus on the current Hybrid A-B / Remote model with additions being made to better serve this model, such as after school tutoring and summer school enhancements vs. implementing plans to work towards a Full-Day / In-Person model such as putting a committee in place, along with additional safety enhancements to operate all 5 days (i.e. plexiglass, space restructuring, etc.).

Harter Middle School Cafeteria


Tonya Groezinger, a Maple Park resident, opened public comments by referencing the petition that she initiated with Kim Harner of Sugar Grove less than two weeks ago and now has close to 900 signatures. The petition implores the Kaneland District 302 School Board to ‘'please take action for Kaneland students by offering a full-time in-person school option', while also recognizing that parents should have a choice if remote learning works better for their family.

Many in attendance Monday night were disheartened that the school board did not address the petition in any way during the meeting, nor was it added to the agenda for the next school board meeting.

Groezinger also cited that many other neighboring school districts have made ‘returning to school on a 5-day basis’ a priority by using creative measures and making necessary changes to make it happen within the posted state guidelines. These districts include Yorkville, St. Charles, Batavia and many private schools.

Jennifer Hogan Shaw, Sugar Grove

Jennifer Hogan Shaw of Sugar Grove addressed the board by refuting a response she received from Dr. Sarah Mumm in early February in regards to why Kaneland was not yet full-time for the families who want it, but other neighboring districts are, expressing her deep concern for the reasons she was given.

Shaw shared with the board that she was told by Mumm that it is because there is a lack of teachers due to the full-remote structure, so Kaneland would have to pull from other resources such as RTI and Library Media Teachers and then the kids would be learning from unqualified teachers. Shaw indicated to the board that a degreed teaching professional in a full-time school setting would better serve Kaneland students vs. parents, grandparents and neighbors teaching them who know very little about teaching.

Shaw was also told that while other school districts have converted their larger spaces into classroom settings to accommodate social distancing, if Kaneland did this then students would need to take Physical Education in classrooms and not gym spaces, impacting library time as well due to the same reason. Shaw indicated to the board that kids are currently taking PE class alone in their dining room or living room, often times via a shared YouTube link, which has far greater limitations and negative social–emotional impact on children, than taking PE in a classroom with their peers.

Additionally, Shaw shared that she was told that while another district brings students in for five days with the day ending at 12:30pm, Kaneland cannot do this due to daycare issues and bus capacity since Kaneland is 147 square miles. Shaw refuted this as well, indicating to the board that parents are already forced to get daycare and hired help – or miss work entirely – due to the Hybrid A-B model. Shaw also noted at the conclusion of the meeting, that since the administration requested additional funding for summer school bussing and after school tutoring, the focus continues to be taken away from planning for a Full-Day / In-Person model, and instead supports the deficit caused by the Hybrid A-B model.

Shaw spoke again prior to the conclusion of the meeting, adding, "Knowing that over 400 teachers and staff received their first vaccination over a week ago, I encourage you to think twice about the reasons you are saying NO and start being proactive and finding solutions for our children to return back to school full time in person for the remainder of the school year. For our children to have some normalcy and consistency and mentally feel good again, let them finish the school year off full time in person! This hybrid plan has already set our children behind academically and that falls on you, Kaneland District 302 School Board. It’s time to change it!"

Harter Middle School Cafeteria

Earlier in the meeting, a father of a Kaneland 5th grader pointed out that the phrase displayed on the wall in the cafeteria at Harter Middle School could not be farther from what is actually currently happening for our students, indicating that they deserve a better education than this. It reads “KHMS Students are Working to Graduate College, Career and Community Ready.

Kaneland Dad, Chris Bateman from Elburn also shared his concerns with the board regarding the Hybrid A-B model and the effects is has had on his family, particularly his 8 year old daughter who attends Blackberry Elementary School. He brought along some questions that she gave to him for the Board. She asked:

• “Why do we have to wear masks if we are 6 feet away?”

• “Why can we touch each outside, but not inside?”

• “Why do they clean the balls not the playground?”

• “Why can’t we go back to school except on Wednesday?”

“I began reaching out to the School Board and Superintendent’s Office with questions regarding what a return to full time, in person learning plan would look like in October. It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that there is still no plan and no communication with the parents,“ Bateman shared following the meeting.

Photo Provided by Chris Bateman, Elburn

Kaneland mom, Lindy Kleivo of Sugar Grove, attended with her high school daughter in hopes that the petition citing parental concerns would be addressed, but expressed her dismay following the meeting after there was no mention of it at all by the Board.

“As a mom of 3 girls, one with an IEP who has been attending school full-time, in-person for all 5 days since August, I was hoping that more regard would have been shown towards the many parents who have very valid concerns regarding a Full-Time / In-Person plan. Many of these parents signed a petition so they could be heard, which is their right, not so they could become unfairly targeted by those who don't agree with what's best for their family. Sadly, this petition continues to be ignored by the Board," she shared.

Kleivo added, "It seems like the District is allocating funds in a reactive manner instead of being proactive. If they don’t have enough teachers to cover full-day for the families who want and need it, while still being able to offer remote learning, then they need to hire more teachers instead of allocating the funds to remedy the deficit caused by the Hybrid/A-B model with no real plan in place – tutoring after school and extended summer school cannot possibly be the answer. With masks, along with the other safety guidelines the state has issued, the solution is simple – open school 5 days a week and stop doing this to our children.

First Grade Remote Work, Kaneland John Shields Elementary School

"My first grader is given a packet to complete for her remote days– which are two, sometimes three days a week. This packet consists of 7 or 8 worksheets covering the basics. She completes this in about one hour. The rest is up to us - we try to get creative - but she gets bored and just wishes she could go to school every day like her sister does. Printed packets with zero teacher involvement on Remote Days for Hybrid students is in no way an education.

I’ve also heard from several students in different grades that not all Kaneland classes are currently following a 6-foot social distancing rule. This is why it is even more disheartening to hear that the district is making this their primary reason for not returning to school when the 6-foot rule is not even happening now under a Hybrid A-B model, Parents just want answers and don't want to be treated like their valid concerns don't count” Kleivo concluded.

Kim Harner, Sugar Grove

Kim Harner of Sugar Grove, co-organizer of the petition and admin of the facebook group Kaneland Go Forward- Parents United, shared similar concerns with the Board as she spoke in Monday night's meeting, requesting again that there be a dedicated committee in place with the common goal of developing the Full-Time / In-Person school model.

“The administration made it very clear to parents last night that they do not have a plan to get our kids back in school full-time (even in August) until the 6-foot social distancing rule changes, they are not transparent with parents, and they ignored our concerns in the petition. It was very disheartening and our kids need better than this,” Harner shared following the meeting.

Overall, most parents in attendance shared that they want to be heard and want the district and the Board to start embracing a plan for Full-Time / In-Person learning sooner than later, while still offering a remote option. Though the Move-Forward movement continues to receive opposition by those who don't want a Full-Day / In-Person plan, parents remain hopeful for positive communication in the coming weeks. A Town Hall Meeting was requested of the Board Monday night.

CLARIFICATION: After communicating with Aaron Lawler, we learned that Aaron’s statement pertaining to the integrity of the survey concerned the "integrity of the data" and by no means was a question of the "integrity of the respondents or participants", as some readers may have interpreted after reading the article. As confirmed in the video, Aaron’s question to Dr. Leden was specific and concerns specific language and terminology in regards to statistics and statistical analysis. Though Glancer Magazine reported on events in the sequence that they occurred, it was not the intent of Glancer Magazine to create a misleading and inappropriate connection between Aaron Lawler’s question re: the integrity of the data of the survey and Dr. Leden’s response to Aaron.